May 23, 2010
Seeking all that is still unsung
I was was blessed to see four out of six of this amazing run.Here is just a little back story on what was happening, first this was the Band's first test of limiting the number of cities on a tour, they only played three cities that fall tour, Richfield, MSG and Boston Garden. This was to deal with the ever increasing challenges of us deadheads wearing out our welcome in many cities in the megalopolis.
Second Jerry graced the front cover of most recent issue of Rolling Stone, which I believe came out during the New York run. In it Garcia talked about his lack of inspiration with the music. At the time it was the most honest Jerry had been about recent events and for all intensive purposes you could not blame him. The previous year was extremely difficult with the loss of Brent and barely taking three months off that previous year.
Finally there were mixed reviews that came out after the nine show run,at MSG. Granted they played some stellar shows but this coupled with the RS interview had us all abuzz if a real break for the boys was on the horizon.
This was the first time that the Dead was welcomed backed to the hallow ground of the "Garden" since 1982, when as I have heard the road crew was grilling on one of the back fire escapes and the Fire Marshall flipped out. There may have been some conflict with the local stage workers union as well.
Regardless they were back and this end of tour run was highly anticipated. If you are not familiar of all the details of this run, the first night had the infamous Help> Slip> Fire on the Mountain, which for the faithful was clearly a nod from Jerry that he was not done yet.
The run continued to get better and fast forward to Thursday and all in attendance knew that some kind of greatness could occur.
The band did not disappoint and in the second set blew every one away, even the most die hard skeptical.
The night started off with the band taking more time on stage, than usual, turning and fiddling and clearly demonstrating they were not in a rush to leave Beantown.
The Jack Straw was the perfect opener, not the greatest version ever played, but it is the type of version that just drew you in and it just keep getting better and better as it went on.It was simple enthralling.
Jerry follows this with a great CR & S, ok I will now mention Bruce's accordion playing, he does play it often this show, some tunes it works other it does not here I will say it worked but I would have preferred him just to play the piano.
The rest of the set is very well played, a poetic Candyman, a unusual and rare paring of Mexicali> Cumberland, a rip roaring Picasso that could have gone on for another three or four minutes and a set ending Box of Rain. Sadly that was marred by a fire/door alarm that someone set off during the song.Thankful a resourceful fan or worker turned it off to a resound cheer of appreciation from us all. You luckily can not hear it on this matrix. Bruce's accordion playing IMHO does not worked on this song, but is is still was an enjoyable closing to a confident 1st set.
Long break this night and when they came back on the air was heavy with the sweet smoke of canabis, the Garden had a horrible ventilation system, and it was very warm too.
The band starts tuning and begins to just drift off, the lights Candace had gracing the stage were white diamonds, everyone was thinking like "no way are they gonna do it?" Yes they were going to do it and they went right into the motif and Jerry just sounded wonderful playing those opening licks. This version is more melodic and easy going, like a slow running summer stream, rather than intense and spacey. It clearly is one of the best 90's DS for sure. There is great interaction between everyone in the band, especially Phil, and Jerry is clearly steering the ship.
His solo into the first verse is quite beautiful. They had already played the 1st verse earlier in the run but again chose to play the song form the beginning on this special night.
They explore a couple themes quite well, and they pick up the tempo quite nicely, before making a incredible transition into Saint. It was a perfect pairing, and the place exploded. This version easily is one of the best they ever played and the ending chorus is raved up with Jerry singing his heart out on it.
Then we get serious, but the good kind :), with Jerry immediately strumming those familiar chords of Eyes of the World. It is an up tempo version, and shorter than other contemporary versions, but this ones just shines all the way. Jerry's every solo is sweet, emotional and with purpose, he literally crafts a masterpiece on this one. It is simply one of my favorite versions ever.
At the end of Phil clearly opens up the Other One and you are like this would be crazy and Jerry, sort of slows it down and says, not yet guys, and the band fades of stage quickly after this. The drums are very nice very cerebral and build up to some cool intensity and continue to expand this sets, obvious acknowledgement of this band's deep psychedelic history. So far only two songs were written after 1972 have been played the entire night so far.
Bob Bravlove adds some intense Tibetan inspired sounds as the band transitions into space. The spaceship was lifting off again to points unknown, or at the very least had not been visited in over 20 years.
Once again the band does a amazing job of developing and exploding into a roaring version of the Other One, Phil is just all over it with Jerry and Bob's vocals are full of passion and purpose. Then yet another pleasant shock the return to the mirror as it shatters back into the final verse of Dark Star, what a rare treat. I have to say that the final few minutes of this is simple amazing.
Once again Jerry leads this lilting and gentle coda, with everyone contributing tasteful accents and it comes to a complete end with Bruce playing his keys like a soft summer rain.
I mean the place was so quite you could hear a pin drop.
Then Bruce starts to play softly and you can hear Jerry pulling at those emotional heartstrings from deep in the past and this blossoms into Attic of My Life.
Once again the band blew us away with a religious reading of this song, they only had just brought it back for the first time earlier in the tour since Brent's passing, and this version is both fragile and quite moving.It will bring you to tears.
When Bob started playing those familiar chords of Good Lovin', after such a mass spiritual cleansing, it was the ideal joyous group orgasm. Now it was time to honor Pig Pen's memory as well, this was the best example of how this band could honor their fallen friends and band mates.
Once again this version shines and was a perfect ending to a set, that was stunning, remarkable, inspired and, as history has shown, one this band would never quite play like this with Jerry at the helm ever again.
The encore sealed that fate, or rather raised it the bar so high this night could not be ever matched nor should it.
Brokedown Palace was the song that so many of us well traveled,friends,rainbow warriors and lovers knew was the guide to send us home, with a smile on our face and love in hearts.
This version, although alittle heavy on the accordion, is moving and beautiful and Jerry solo is stellar. Once again it is one of my favorite version I ever saw live.
Then to surprise us with one more glorious gem from the days of old, was a stunning and glorious affirmation of life, love, music and what can happen when all of these are threaded so thoughtfully and tenderly together in a way that only the Grateful Dead could do.
What is also noteworthy is the sweet and sincere acknowledgements by Phil, Bobby and Jerry at the end of We Bid You Goodnite.If you are wondering why the Garden erupted the way it did during this song, here is why.Phil blew a kiss to us all, Bobby winked and Jerry smiled and waved, twice.